Business case studies highlight the value you can bring to your clients. HGB’s resident case study creator, Ann Graham, explains the ingredients for a great case study.
Self-promotion… few of us like it, but in business it’s essential. However, before you shy away from the prospect of self-advertisement, consider our alternative for promoting your business achievements in a more subtle yet highly effective way. Experience the power of case studies.
What are case studies?
Case studies showcase the work you do for your clients. They’re a way of explaining to prospective and existing clients the range of services you offer and, ultimately, the results you can achieve. They’re more in-depth than a customer quote or testimonial and can be used across a range of channels, from your website to tender documents, newsletters to annual reports. Written in friendly, easy to understand language, they tell a story of a project you have undertaken, a problem you have resolved or a challenge you have overcome for a client. The most effective case studies tell these stories with the underlying message: ‘We did this for our client, we can do this for you.’
Essential ingredients of a case study
Much like writers do when they’re crafting a story, great case studies include some key ingredients.
1. A good hook
Start with an opening line that’s going to draw your reader in. As they’re browsing through your website or flicking through your brochure, what’s going to make them stop and think, ‘I want to know more about this’. The opening line is your hook – don’t let your reader get away.
For example, a case study on the Ebbett VW website starts with... "Not many staff get to test drive a range of vehicles when their boss is looking to upgrade the company fleet...." Now that sounds fun!
2. An interesting scene
Every good writer sets the scene and that’s exactly what you need to do in your case studies. Who are you working with? What do you do for them? What’s the nature of your relationship? Give your reader the background to these working partnerships so they can get an understanding of what you deliver. It may trigger them to think ‘they could do this for us too’.
IT Partners use case studies to illustrate how they work with clients, and to get people to think 'that's what we need!'
3. Memorable characters
Introduce your characters. Every good story has some strong characters; in your case studies these will be your spokespeople. Choose one from your side of the business and one from your client’s side. Any quote or comment your client provides for inclusion in your case study works as a testimonial, reinforcing your customer relationship and endorsing the work you do - like in this Regal case study.
4. A problem or challenge
Take a moment to think about your favourite books – what’s the common theme running through them? Is it adversity experienced by a lead character? A problem or challenge they’re facing? This is what provides intrigue. Having developed your hook and set the scene, it’s time to draw the reader in further. Keep them transfixed. Make them want to keep reading to the end to find out what has happened and how you resolved the issue at hand.
Everyone loves a happy ending, so conclude your case study with the result you have achieved. It may be the creation of a new product, winning of new work, successful campaign results or the setting up of new operations. This is your chance to shout from the rooftops about the result you got for your client - like this Lightwire case study.
Benefits of case studies
At HGB, we produce case studies for many of our clients. It’s a rewarding way to delve further into their business to find out what some of their success stories are. We ascertain exactly what happened, what the challenge was, who they were working with and what they ultimately achieved.
We believe case studies have a range of benefits, such as:
• giving readers a real-life example of what your business does and what you can achieve
• showcasing a working relationship with results and solutions
• clearly explaining the nature of your business in an easy to understand and readable format
• providing a useful sales tool for your staff when talking with prospective clients
• leveraging your company’s brand – readers can see the range of clients you work with and what you do for them.
Support your case studies with visuals, such as photos, diagrams, infographics or even video.
Want to shout your success from the rooftops? Give the HGB team a call today.